British ASIC designer Alpha Technology has revised the spec for its upcoming Viper scrypt miner, promising a significant speed boost, but also dropping a few features in the process.
The hashing power gains are significant: Alpha had originally promised 5 MH/s and 25 MH/s units, but earlier this year it revised those figures to 16 MH/s and 90 MH/s respectively. Now it is promising to deliver 50 MH/s and 250 MH/s – 10 times the original rates.
The company says the decision was made after long consideration and lengthy negotiations with its partners, coupled with strong competition in the scrypt mining market. Notably, KnCMiner generated a fair amount of buzz in the scrypt community with its 250 MH/s Titan miner, priced at $9,995.
With the latest revision, Alpha’s flagship Viper miner should offer similar performance at a somewhat lower price point. It’s still too early to assess real-world performance, power efficiency and return on investment, but it is likely that the two machines will be close in spec.
While the company has decided to “add more power” to ‘batch 1’ devices, it is unclear whether the speed gains are the result of simply adding more chips or tweaking the design. The company says it will “scale power accordingly”, so power consumption should not increase in line with performance.
Back to basics
Alpha points out that the increased hashing power does not come without compromise. After customer feedback indicated that power and efficiency are users’ primary concerns, the company decided to drop certain features to stay competitive, telling its customers:
“This is a ‘you can’t have everything’ situation: hash rate + fancy features. As a result of this decision, we are able to upgrade your devices but as we’re going more ‘back to basics’ with the miners and the following features will have to be removed from the units to save both costs, space and speed up the manufacturing process.”
The redesigned, more frugal Vipers will ship without LCD displays, Wi-Fi connectivity or the WebGUI interface. Instead they will run via a wired USB or Ethernet connection.
Just a few weeks ago the company said the WebGUI interface was ready to go, while at the same time the company said it had initiated the tape-out process at GlobalFoundries, indicating the design had been finalized.
Thanks to the back-to-basics approach and lower margins, Alpha says that despite the extra power, it will not change the price, with the Viper staying at $2,200 and $9,000 for the 50 MH/s and 250 MH/s models respectively.
Cloud mining delayed
Alpha says it will not offer free cloud hashing for the time being, as the new hash rates make the cloud redundant for now, explaining:
“The cloud mining operation will always have taken place after batch 1 and it is a tough undertaking with many factors needing to be hashed out. Such as building the environment (network, security, hardware, etc.), programming the interfaces, setting a real-time purchase system etc.”
The company continued: “It’s not something that can be done within a day yet we do see a growing demand to give exact details out immediately. That is simply impossible to achieve at this stage, it is not something that should be underestimated and we always, without exception, only want to deliver stable and properly built products: we do not want to rush anything.”
However, a cloud operation is definitely planned for the future, it says. Batch 1 clients will be offered a promotion, along with other existing clients, when the time comes.
The company insists it is still on track to ship the first miners in July at the stated price, and intends to resend invoices with the updated specs to all customers very soon.
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